Wednesday, September 24, 2014

USAID awards Kansas State University $50 million grant to establish Feed the Future Innovation Lab

KANSAS CITY, KAN. — The U.S. Agency for International Development today awarded Kansas State University a $50 million grant to establish a Feed the Future Innovation Lab for Sustainable Intensification.

The grant supports USAID's agricultural research and capacity building work under Feed the Future,, the U.S. government's global hunger and food security initiative.

"Through our Feed the Future Innovation Labs, USAID is empowering the world's finest universities to help improve nutrition and end widespread hunger around the world," said USAID Administrator Dr. Rajiv Shah. "By creating and scaling cutting-edge solutions to our most pressing agricultural challenges, we can help the world's most vulnerable people move from dependency to self-sufficiency — and out of the tragic cycle of extreme poverty."

"With four Feed the Future Innovation Labs now hosted by the College of Agriculture and K-State Research and Extension, USAID is making a nearly $100 million investment in Kansas State University's ability to provide leadership to the global food systems research, teaching and extension efforts,” said John Floros, dean of the College of Agriculture at Kansas State University.

Nina Lilja, associate dean of International Agricultural Programs and co-principal investigator for the lab, said, "USAID is recognizing Kansas State University's ability to develop and implement effective science-based international programs in agriculture."

Karen Burg, vice president for research and professor of chemical engineering, said, "The grant is a major win and a testament to the capabilities and longstanding commitment to agriculture shared by Kansas State University and the state of Kansas."

This newest Feed the Future lab will identify technologies to help smallholder farmers in Africa and South Asia improve land, water, soil, crop and livestock management while simultaneously improving yields and sustaining natural resources. The lab will focus on countries in West Africa, east and south Africa, and South Asia.

"The research is mutually beneficial to both international and U.S. agriculture," said Vara Prasad, Kansas State University principal investigator who will serve as director of the lab. "We will be working on leading research and capacity-building of all our partners, including training graduate students, scientists and farmers."

Gary Pierzynski, university distinguished professor and head of the Kansas State University agronomy department, is also a co-principal investigator of the lab.

This is the fourth Feed the Future Lab awarded to Kansas State University. Other labs focus on sorghum and millet research; applied wheat genomics; and the reduction of postharvest loss. Currently there are 24 Innovation Labs led by 15 U.S. universities, with involvement from more than 60 U.S. colleges and universities in 39 states.

Feed the Future is working to scale-up proven technologies and activities, expand nutrition interventions and programs, and conduct research to create the next generation of innovations that can change the lives of food producers and their families. In 2013, Feed the Future reached more than 7 million farmers and other food producers with new technologies and management practices on more than 4 million hectares of land, while reaching more than 12.5 million children with high impact nutrition interventions that improve health and development.

The U.S. Agency for International Development is leading the U.S. government's efforts to end extreme poverty and promote resilient, democratic societies.

For more information about USAID and its programs, please visit or on Twitter: @USAIDPress.